FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Moscow — Russians continue to spend more of their disposable income on phones and the first quarter of 2018 confirmed the trend, according to the latest release of the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker published by global IT market research company International Data Corporation (IDC).
The total value of the Russian mobile phone market was $1.63 billion in Q1 2018, marking the highest-ever figure for the first quarter of the year, and beating out that in Q1 2014, the boom year in the market before the rouble crash.
The first quarter also saw the largest volume of smartphone imports into Russia in an annual first quarter at 6.3 million units.
In Q1 2018, Samsung continued to hold a quarter of the smartphone market in volume terms, while Huawei held steady in second place with a market volume share approximately half that of Samsung's. Xiaomi continues to climb, and almost matched Huawei's unit share.
The trend of purchasing higher price devices continued, with the average sales price of an Android smartphone rising to $175, which is the highest ASP seen since the third quarter of 2014.
According to official statistics, mobile phone imports into Russia have now reached a value comparable to imports of foreign cars. Many import categories remain well below the levels recorded before the rouble crash.
“Despite the higher price, Russian consumers want seriously performing products for their money, and there is less straightforward fashion and bling in what they buy than there was before the crash,” notes Simon Baker, program director for mobile devices at IDC CEMA.
“Before the crash, sales in the lower middle of the market were small, especially for Android phones," Baker continues. "The top end was strong and so were the lowest market segments, but now we’re seeing more growth in in the $200-$300 price range."
“Far fewer entry-level smartphones are sold now than just a year ago," adds Natalia Vinogradova, program manager at IDC Russia. "Among Samsung models, for example, sensible J and A series midrange models sell better than the new flagship Galaxy 9, which has found only a niche in the Russian market. Although Apple continues to do well, the cheapest SE model is the most popular, followed by the iPhone 8 and 7 models, rather than the new X.”
Among other brands, the story is similar. Huawei's middle-of-the-road P Smart and its Honor brand 9 and 9 Lite are the manufacturer's most popular models. Xiaomi's leading model is the somewhat lowly Redmi 5A.
IDC expects continuing strong smartphones sales in Russia throughout 2018, despite the recent wobble in the rouble following additional American sanctions. One key trend helping to boost the market this year will be a slew of new models with 18:9 ratio screens or similar.
IDC is projecting these new screens, which fill up more of the surface of the phone without necessarily meaning a larger phone corpus, will quickly become common on mid range models, not just premium flagships.
Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.